Florida Dem: That 60 Minutes hit piece on DeSantis and Publix is “absolute malarkey”

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Not just “absolute malarkey” either, but dishonest absolute malarkey. CBS News’ 60 Minutes tried to paint Florida’s partnership with supermarket giant Publix as a kind of payoff for campaign contributions in a segment last night targeting Governor Ron DeSantis. Its centerpiece came in this clip from a press conference, in which the show’s correspondent tried to confront DeSantis over the issue.

Here’s the clip, and then we’ll go to the actual tape:

Note well where DeSantis tells Sharyn Alfonsi that he just “disabused” her of her false narrative. Did that sound odd to you? If so, it’s because 60 Minutes clipped out DeSantis’ full answer, reducing a two-minutes-plus response to a few seconds. Leah Barkoukis and the Daily Wire offer the full response DeSantis gave Alfonsi, which indeed refuted Alfonsi’s premise.

The bolded parts are all the pieces that 60 Minutes excised to protect its narrative:

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Sharyn Alfonsi: Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach—

Ron DeSantis: So, first of all, that — what you’re saying is wrong. That’s—

Sharyn Alfonsi: How is that not pay-to-play?

Ron DeSantis: —that, that’s a fake narrative. So, first of all, when we did, the first pharmacies that had it were CVS and Walgreens. And they had a long term care mission. So they were going to the long term care facilities. They got vaccine in the middle of December, they started going to the long term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs. So that was their mission. That was very important. And we trusted them to do that. As we got into January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. So yes, you had the counties, you had some drive through sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot, but we wanted to get it into communities more. So we reached out to other retail pharmacies — Publix, Walmart — obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission. And we said, we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that. For the Publix, they were the first one to raise their hand, say they were ready to go. And you know what, we did it on a trial basis. I had three counties. I actually showed up that weekend and talked to seniors across four different Publix. How was the experience? Is this good? Should you think this is a way to go? And it was 100% positive. So we expanded it, and then folks liked it. And I can tell you, if you look at a place like Palm Beach County, they were kind of struggling at first in terms of the senior numbers. I went, I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County, and I said, “Here’s some of the options: we can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix, we can do this.” They calculated that 90% of their seniors live within a mile and a half of a Publix. And they said, “We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.” So, we did that, and what ended up happening was, you had 65 Publix in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is one of the biggest counties, one of the most elderly counties, we’ve done almost 75% of the seniors in Palm Beach, and the reason is because you have the strong retail footprint. So our way has been multifaceted. It has worked. And we’re also now very much expanding CVS and Walgreens, now that they’ve completed the long term care mission.

Sharyn Alfonsi: The criticism is that it’s pay-to-play, governor.

Ron DeSantis: And it’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative. And you don’t care about the facts. Because, obviously, I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, I— I was just—

Ron DeSantis: And, so, it’s clearly not.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn’t there the nearest Publix —

Ron DeSantis: No, no, no. You’re wrong.

Sharyn Alfonsi: —30 miles away.

Ron DeSantis: You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Yes, sir?

Sharyn Alfonsi: That’s actually a fact. 

We talk a lot about media hatchet jobs, but this is almost a literal hatchet job. CBS News cut out every substantial point DeSantis made in order to make Alfonsi look like she got the best of him. DeSantis had made clear that Publix, far from getting preferential treatment, was merely the first chain to be ready to move on general-population vaccinations. Walgreens and CVS actually went first in long-term care facilities anyway, which tied them up for a while from doing anything else. DeSantis wanted to get as many others as possible in the game — which isn’t terribly surprising.

What’s amazing is that CBS News and 60 Minutes thought they could get away with it. This was, after all, a public press conference, not a one-on-one interview in which all of the footage was controlled by CBS. Did no one think that people would check the tape of the presser? This hatchet job was so badly done that, as Omri Ceren suggests, it looks like it was deliberately incompetent:

It’s so bad, in fact, that Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz felt compelled to come to DeSantis’ defense. The former state representative and now director of the state’s emergency management agency blasted CBS for the hit job:

This is one of the most dishonest media hit jobs since the faked George Bush/Texas Air National Guard memos. Say, who was behind that dishonest hit job? It’s pretty easy to detect BS when you C it these days ….

Clearly, the 60 Minutes team didn’t like it when DeSantis refused their interview request. It looks like DeSantis made the right call, and this makes it very clear that everyone else should refuse them as well, unless they bring along their own videographer. CBS News and 60 Minutes cannot be trusted with public video, let alone the video they control themselves.

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